Sprint Planning A Nationwide 5G Deployment By Mid 2019

According to its CEO, Marcelo Claure, Sprint has promised to offer nationwide 5G coverage in the first half of 2019. During its earnings call with investors, Claure was quoted as saying this development will put Sprint at the forefront of technology innovation and that it will be what differentiates the organization in the coming years. The timeline Claure provided will exceed that of T-Mobile which plans to start 5G deployment by 2019 with completion sometime in 2020. Claure also noted that since since Sprint owns 160MHz of the 2.5GHz spectrum, that it would be able to offer 5G nationwide. This is in stark contrast to the “hotspots” carriers such as AT&T  and Verizon would be able to provide. This, he claimed, would allow Sprint to offer 5G data without sacrificing any of their current mid-band solutions.

Sprint plans to achieve its 5G via a myriad of ways. First, it plans to add antennas to cell towers that currently support MIMO transmissions and upgrade them to 5G NR standard via a software upgrade. Currently, over half of Sprints towers contain 2.5GHz capabilities with plans to increase the number most if not all by the end of the year. Sprint also plans to increase its macro tower count by 20%, add 40,000 small outdoor cell stations, 15,000 small strand stations, and up to 1-million Sprint Magic Boxes. Lastly, Sprint is already in talks with Qualcomm to provide chipsets to Korean handset manufacturers to supply 5G compatible devices.

Currently, Sprint arguably offers the best pricing for unlimited data for any of the major carriers. The pricing, however, may be short lived. Per Claure, Sprint does not intend to offer unlimited 5G plans at the same price as their current 4G plans. He noted that while he does not expect to see competitors raise their prices, Sprint does plan to raise its prices to more coincide with said competition due to the "fiber like speeds" it will offer. Also noted was that the price increases will be “modest” and their current 4G plans will remain intact for now. For those considering switching to Sprint's unlimited plan, now might be a good time to consider the switch.

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